« AnteriorContinua »
for a good-bye, which, luckily for him, is outer wall is separated from the inner by likely to prove eternal.
a paved space some forty feet in width. The height of both walls makes this point
a formidable one; but scaling-ladders TIIE MORRO FORTRESS — THE UNIVER- could be thrown across, if one had pos
session of the outer wall. The material is the coralline rock common in this part
of the island. It is a soft stone, and would The Spanish government experiences prove, it is feared, something like the an unwillingness to admit foreigners into cotton-bag defence of New Orleans memthe Morro, their great stronghold, the ory, as the balls thrown from without causes of which may not be altogether would sink in, and not splinter the stone, mysterious. Americans have been of which for the murderous work were to late especially excluded from it, and it be wished. A little perseverance, with was only by a fortunate chance that we much perspiration, brought us to a high were allowed to visit it. A friend of a point, called the Lantern, which is merefriend of ours happened to have a friend ly a small room, where the telescope, in the garrison, and, after some delays signal-books, and signals are kept. Here and negotiations, an early morning hour we were received by an official in blue was fixed upon for the expedition. spectacles and with a hole in his boot,
The fort is finely placed at the en- but still with that air of being the chieftrance of the harbor, and is in itself a est thing on God's earth common to all picturesque object. It is built of a light, Spaniards. The best of all was that we yellowish stone, which is seen, as you brought a sack of oranges with us, and draw near, in strong contrast with the that the time was now come for their emvivid green of the tropical waters. We ployment. With no other artillery than approached it by water, taking a row- these did we take the very heart of the boat from the Alameda. As we passed, Morro citadel,- for, on offering them to we had a good view of a daily Havana the official with the hole, he surrendered spectacle, the washing of the horses. This at once, smiled, gave us seats, and sitting being by far the easiest and most expedi- down with us, indeed, was soon in the tious way of cleaning the animals, they midst of his half-dozenth orange. Havare driven daily to the sea in great num- ing refreshed ourselves, examined the bers, those of one party being tied to flags of all nations, and made all the regether; they disport themselves in the marks which our limited Spanish allowed, surge and their wet backs glisten in the we took leave, redescended, and reëmsun. Their drivers, nearly naked, plunge barked. One of our party, an old sol in with them, and bring them safely back dier, had meanwhile been busily scanning to the shore.
the points and angles of the fortress, But for the Morro. We entered with pacing off distances, etc., etc. The reout difficulty, and began at once a some- sult of his observations would, no doubt, what steep ascent, which the heat, even be valuable to men of military minds. at that early hour, made laborious. After But the writer of this, to be candid, was some climbing, we reached the top of the especially engaged with the heat, the parapet, and looked out from the back of
prospect, the oranges, and the soldiers' the fortress. On this side, if ever on any, wives and children, who peeped out from it will be taken,- for, standing with one's windows here and there.
Such trifling back to the harbor, one sees, nearly on creatures do come into such massive surthe right hand, a point where trenches roundings, and trifle still ! could be opened with advantage. The Our ladies, being still in a furious fort is heavily gunned and garrisoned, mood of sight-seeing, desired to visit the and seems to be in fighting order. The University of Havana, and, having made appointment with an accomplished Cu- very limited library, and, for all consolaban, betook themselves to the College, tion, some pleasant Latin sentences over buildings with all proper escort. Their the doors of the various departments, celearrival in the peristyle occasioned some brating the solace and delights of learnexcitement. One of the students came ing. This was seeing the College, literup, and said, in good English, “ What do ally; but it was a good deal like seeing you want?” Others, not so polite, stared the lion's den, the lion himself being aband whispered in corners. A message to sent on leave,- or like visiting the hippoone of the professors was attended with potamus in Regent's Park on those days some delay, and our Cuban friend, hav- in which he remains steadfastly buried in ing gone to consult with him, returned to his tank, and will show only the tip of a say, with some embarrassment, that the nostril for your entrance-fee. Still, it professor would be happy to show the was a pleasure to know that learning establishment to the ladies on Sunday, was so handsomely housed ; and as for at two, P. M., when every male creature the little rabble who could not be trusted but himself would be out of it; but as in the presence of the sex, we forgave for their going through the rooms while them heartily, knowing that soberer manthe undergraduates were about, that was ners would one day come upon them, as not to be thought of. “Why not?” asked inevitably as baldness and paternity. the ladies. “For your own sake,” said . Let me here say, that a few days in the messenger, and proceeded to explain Havana make clear to one the seclusion that the appearance of the skirted in of women in the East, and its causes. these halls of learning would be followed Wherever the animal vigor of men is so by such ill-conduct and indignity of im- large in proportion to their moral power, pertinence on the part of the shirted as as in those countries, women must be glad might be intolerable to the one and dis- to forego their liberties for the protection advantageous to the other. Now there of the strong arm. One master is better be women, we know, whose horrid fronts for them than many. Whatever tyranny could have awed these saucy little Cu- may grow out of such barbarous manners, bans into decency and good behavior, and the institution springs from a veritable some that we know, whether possessing necessity and an original good intention. that power or not, would have delight. The Christian religion should change this, ed in the fancied exercise of it. What which is justifiable only in a Mohammestrong-minded company, under these cir- dan country. But where that religion is cumstances, would have turned back ? so loosely administered as in Cuba, where What bolting, tramping, and rushing its teachers themselves frequent the cockwould they not have made through the pit and the gaming-table, one must not ranks of the astonished professors and look for too much of its power in the students? The Anniversary set, for ex- manners and morals of men. ample, who sweep the pews of men, or,
The Beneficenza was our next station. coming upon one forlorn, crush him as a It is, as its name signifies, an institution boa does a sheep. Our silly little flock with a benevolent purpose, an orphan only laughed, colored, and retreated to asylum and foundling hospital in one. the rolantes, where they held a council The State here charitably considers that of war, and decided to go visit some es- infants who are abandoned by their partablishment where possibly better man- ents are as much orphaned as they can ners might prevail.
become by the interposition of death, Returning on the Sunday, at the hour nay, more.
The death of parents oftenappointed, they walked through the de- est leaves a child with some friend or serted building, and found spacious rooms, relative; but the foundling is cut off from the pulpits of the professors, the benches all human relationship,- he belongs only of the students, the Queen's portrait, a to the hand that takes him up, when he
has been left to die. Despite the kind for the sick, which was neat and convencruelty of modern theories, which will not ient. The larger kitchen, too, was bandallow of suitable provision for the suffer somely endowed with apparatus, and the er, for fear of increasing the frequency superintendent told us, with a twinkle in of the crime by which he suffers, our his eye, that the children lived well. Cofhearts revolt at the miserable condition fee at six, a good breakfast at nine, dinof those little creatures in our great cities, ner at the usual hour, bread and coffee confounded with hopeless pauperism in before bed-time;— this seemed very suitits desolate asylums, or farmed out to able as to quantity, though differing from starve and die. They belong to the State, our ideas of children's food; but it must and the State should nobly retrieve the be remembered that the nervous stimulus world's offence against them. Their brok- of coffee is not found to be excessive in en galaxy shows many a bright star here hot climates; it seems to be only what and there. Such a little wailing crea- Nature demands,- no more. The kind ture has been found who has command- nun who accompanied us now showed ed great actions and done good service us, with some pride, various large presses, among men. Let us, then, cherish the set in the wall, and piled to the top with race of foundlings, of whom Moses was clean and comfortable children's clothing. the first and the greatest. The princess We came presently to where the boys who reared him saw not the glorious des- were reciting their catechism. An eccletiny which lay hid, as a birth-jewel, in siastic was hearing them ;- they seemed his little basket of reeds. She saw only, ready enough with their answers, but were as some of us have seen, a helpless, friend- allowed to gabble off the holy words in a less babe. When he dedicated to her his manner almost unintelligible, and quite first edition of the Pentateuch But, indecorous. They were bright, healthynay, he did not; for neither gratitude nor looking little fellows, ranging apparently dedications were in fashion among the from eight to twelve in age. They had Jews.
good play-ground set off for them, and We found the Beneficenza spacious, shady galleries to walk up and down in. well-ventilated, and administered with Coming from their quarter, the girls' degreat order. It stands near the sea, with partment seemed quiet enough. Here a fine prospect in view, and must coni- was going on the eternal task of needlemand a cool breeze, if there be any. work, to which the sex has been conThe children enjoy sea-bathing in sum- demned ever since Adam's discovery of
The superintendent received us his want of wardrobe. Oh, ye wretched, most kindly, and presented us to the sis- foolish women! why will ye forever sew? ters who have charge of the children, “ We must not only sew, but be thankful who were good specimens of their class. to sew; that little needle being, as the senWe walked with them through the neat timental Curtis has said, the only thing bedormitories, and observed that they were tween us and the worst that may befall." much more airy than those of the Jesuit These incipient women were engaged College, lately described. They all slept in various forms of sewing, - the most on the sackings of the cots, beds being skilful in a sort of embroidery, like that provided only in the infirmary. In the which forms the border of piña handkerlatter place we found but two inmates, – chiefs. A few were reading and spellone suffering from ordinary Cuban fever, ing. One poor blind girl sat amongst the other with ophthalmia. – N. B. Dis- them, with melancholy arms folded, and ease of the eyes does not seem to be learned nothing, - they told us, nothing; common in Cuba, in spite of the tropical for the instruction of the blind is not glare of the sun; nor do people nurse thought of in these parts. This seemed and complain of their eyes there, as with piteous to us, and made us reflect how us. We found a separate small kitchen happy are our blinds, to say nothing of
our deafs and dumbs. Idiocy is not un- and starvation had been tried upon them, common here, and is the result of contin- but, with the tenacity of infancy, they ual intermarriage between near relations; clung to life. They would not die ;-well, but it will be long before they will pro- then, they should live to regret it. Some vide it with a separate asylum and suita- of them lay on the floor, deformed and ble instruction.
helpless; the older ones formed a little But now came the saddest part of class, and were going through some elethe whole exhibition,-a sight common mentary exercise when we passed. The enough in Europe, but, by some accident, babies had a large room allotted to them, hitherto unseen by us. Here is a sort and I found the wet-nurses apportioned of receptacle, with three or four compart- one to each child. This appeared a very ments, which turns on a pivot. One side generous provision, as, in such establishof it is open to the street, and in it the ments elsewhere, three and even four wretched parent lays the more wretched children are given to one nurse. They baby, - ringing a small bell, at the same had comfortable cribs, on each of which time, for the new admittance; the par- was pinned the name of its little inmate, ent vanishes, the receptacle turns on its and the date of its entrance ;--generally, pivot, - the baby is within, and, we are the name and age of the child are found willing to believe, in merciful hands. written on a slip of paper attached to
The sight of this made, for the first its clothing, when it is left in the receptime, the crime real to me. I saw, at a tacle. I saw on one, Cecilio, three flash, the whole tragedy of desertion,- weeks old.” He had been but a few days the cautious approach, the frightened in the establishment. countenance, the furtive act, and the Of course, I lingered longest in the great avenging pang of Nature after babies' room, and longest of all near the its consummation. What was Hester crib of the little Cecilio. He was a pretPrynne's pillory, compared to the heart ty baby, and seemed to me the most of any of those mothers? I thought, too, ill-used of all, because the youngest. of Rousseau, bringing to such a place as “ Could they not bear with you three this children who had the right to inherit weeks, little fellow ?” I said. “I know divine genius, and deserting them for the those at whose firesides such as you would sordid reason that he did not choose to have been welcome guests. That New earn their bread,- the helpless mother York woman whom I met lately, young, weeping at home, and begging, through rich, and childless,- I could commend long years, to be allowed to seek and re- you to her in place of the snarling little claim them.
spaniel fiend who was her constant care Well, here were the little creatures and companion." kindly cared for ; yet what a piteous But here the superintendent made a poplace was their nursery! Some of the lite bow, saying, — “And now your Worrecent arrivals looked as if ill-usage had ships have seen all; for the chapel is unbeen exhausted upon them before they dergoing repairs, and cannot be visited.” were brought hither. Blows and drugs And so we thanked, and departed.